Thursday, October 30, 2014

Card #123: Danny Goodwin

Has it really been a week since I posted? Travel, work, and other life events have conspired to limit me this month. I'll keep on it, though.

Who Can It Be Now?
Danny Kay Goodwin was born on September 2, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri. His family moved to Oakland, California, for several years before returning to the Midwest to Peoria, Illinois. 

In Peoria, Goodwin became a local legend while attending Peoria Central High School. The local legend came with a prodigious home run he hit during his senior year of high school, the story of which is told at Hardball Times. He lettered for four years in baseball and played varsity basketball as well. He was named to the all-conference baseball team three times. In his senior year in 1971, Goodwin was named to the Topps High School All-American team as its Catcher.  

As it stood in 1971, the sort-of local Chicago White Sox had the first overall draft pick in the June Amateur Draft. They did not hesitate to select the Peoria product with their pick, turning down the opportunity to select Frank Tanana, Jim Rice, and Rick Rhoden (all first round picks) and, also, two of the best third-basemen ever to play the game -- George Brett and Mike Schmidt -- who were selected in the second round.

A funny thing happened, though, on the way to the big leagues for Goodwin: he turned down the money-- a less-than-impressive $60,000 (about $350,000 today) -- on offer from the White Sox.  Goodwin, though, came from a well-educated family, as his father was an agricultural chemist with a master's degree who worked for the government and his mother was a grade school counselor. His family had instilled in him the value of a college education. As he told the AP in 1971, "The bonus is important, of course, but my parents and I also consider a college education very important. If I sign a professional contract, I'd like to make certain some arrangement can be made for a part-time educational program."

Whether it was a lack of money or a desire for an education, Goodwin turned down the White Sox.  Instead, he enrolled at Southern University -- a historically black college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- without ever visiting the school before his first day of classes. 

At Southern, he again was a star -- with a .394 AVG, 20 HR, and 166 RBI -- on his way to being named as the College Baseball Player of the Year for 1975 by The Sporting News. Surprisingly, Goodwin was never selected in any of the secondary drafts for players who had been drafted before, nor was he drafted after his junior year of college. He chose to keep himself ineligible for all of those drafts and stayed in school for all four years of his college eligibility. 

Once he graduated, though, and on the heels of his stellar senior season, the California Angels made Goodwin the first overall pick of the 1975 June Amateur Draft. It seemed as though Goodwin could not miss, after all. The Angels assigned Goodwin to Double-A El Paso immediately after he signed, and Goodwin did well enough there to get a call-up to Anaheim before the end of the season.  Even before he got to El Paso, however, he suffered a shoulder injury -- working his arm too hard in his first baseball in two months.  This shoulder injury hampered Goodwin throughout his career.

Yet, though he made it to the majors for a cup of coffee in 1975, he would not surface again in the big leagues until 1977. Indeed, Goodwin would appear in just 63 games over three different seasons for the Angels, who realized that he had the throwing arm of a designated hitter and the bat of a backup catcher and never let him play the field. 

As a result, the Angels made a difficult decision: to cut their losses and pawn Goodwin's untapped potential off on another team while trying to make a run at the World Series in 1979. As a result, Goodwin and Ron Jackson were traded to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Dan Ford. 

Goodwin's arm troubles sapped him of any hope of being a catcher, and his footwork and agility did not lend themselves to being a first baseman. So, he was a designated hitter who did not hit for power in his limited opportunities in the major leagues. Yes, in notorious hitters' ballparks -- like El Paso in 1978, when the 24-year-old Goodwin went back to Double-A and beat the hell out of pitchers who averaged being over a year younger than him (.360/.469/.637 in 449 plate appearances) with 25 HR and 89 RBI, or in Ogden in 1979 in Triple-A (.349/.434/.608 in 435 plate appearances; team numbers: .288/.371/.412) -- Goodwin still looked like a future superstar. 

The reality was that Goodwin was a limited player without a position. His 1979 season with the Twins was his most productive as a major leaguer -- .289/.335/497 with 5 homers in 172 plate appearances. It was also the season in which he had his biggest opportunity to play, playing every day after July 20 for the Twins. 

1980 was far less successful. Goodwin made the Twins out of Spring Training. On a team with Ron Jackson at first playing 131 games and with the surprise of 35-year-old Jose Morales hitting .303 in nearly 100 games, Goodwin's opportunities were limited to just 134 plate appearances.  Goodwin did not seize on the opportunities he was given, either -- hitting just .200/.301/.270 with 1 HR in those trips to the plate.  

And 1981 was not much better at the plate for him -- .225/.298/.318 in 169 plate appearances. Yes, he played a higher percentage of the Twins games, but all that earned him at the age of  was his unconditional release from the Twins on November 27, 1981. By this point, the Twins had 21-year-old Kent Hrbek ready to play -- or at least ready for an opportunity to play -- and the team wanted to give their minor league youth a chance. That 1982 Twins team was bad, but it formed the basis for the 1987 World Series team (after adding HOF OF Kirby Puckett, of course).

Goodwin latched on with the Oakland A's for 57 plate appearances and 17 games in 1982, splitting time between Oakland and Triple-A Tacoma. He kept plugging away at Tacoma through 1985 and hit very well there. But all that proved was that he probably was a Quad-A player -- not good enough for the majors, too good for the minors. After a 1986 season in which he put up an unimpressive .231/.292/.414 in Japan for Nankai, Goodwin called it quits on his playing career.

Mustache Check: Goodwin is sporting one hell of an impressive mustache on this card.

Trivial Pursuit
It is low-hanging fruit, but Danny Goodwin still holds the distinction of being the only player to have been chosen twice with the first overall pick in the June Draft.

Orange You Smart
As I mentioned, Goodwin finished up his degree at Southern before he was drafted. In his post-baseball life, Goodwin has earned three master's degrees. He has a Master of Science in Project Management (Construction) from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia, which he earned in 2001 (more on that later). 

Then, from 2002 to 2005, while working for a construction management company, he earned his Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University's Michael J. Coles College of Business.

Finally, from 2009 to 2011, he earned his second Master of Science degree from SPSU, this time in Information Technology.

Nanu Nanu
This 1982 Topps card of Goodwin is his final appearance on a major release baseball card during his playing career. Oddly, despite being the #1 overall selection twice, he did not appear in the 1985 Topps "First Draft Pick" subset.

Of course, he appeared in the TCMA Tacoma sets for his time in Triple-A in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. He also appeared in the 1986 Takara Nankai Hawks set while playing in Japan.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Danny Goodwin was not a player whose presence or lack of presence on the playing field was something I noticed back in 1982. I probably had no idea about the trivia bit about him either at that point. 

Before he went back to school, Goodwin served as the Director of Community Relations and as President of the Atlanta Braves Foundation for all of the 1990s. He then worked for the City of Atlanta for a couple of years during the time he was in school at SPSU for the first time.

Now, it's entirely possible that I have met Danny Goodwin and not known him for being a former major league baseball player. Back in the early 2000s, the law firm at which I was working had lawyers teaching construction law to the project management students at SPSU. I was one of the lawyers who taught there, so I might have had him in the class.

Frankly, I couldn't tell you who any of those people were in the class, nor do I recall at this point whether we were teaching in 2001. I seem to recall that the timeframe was a bit later, but it's a little hazy right now. Also, I don't recall ever getting a class roster to use -- the more senior attorneys who graded papers and tests handled those. So, I might have taught Goodwin about some arcane issue in construction law, such as performance bonds or materialman's liens or bankruptcy.  I don't know.

After Goodwin finished that first master's degree, he went to work for almost 3-1/2 years for a company called Boyken International, which has since been purchased by another company called Hill International. Boyken International provided construction management services as well as supporting construction claims. In my work with my second Atlanta law firm, we employed Boyken International to serve as our experts for a large series of cases relating to a particular project in Florida for approximately 10 years -- from 2002 through 2012. 

I recall having meetings at Boyken with some of their experts as early as early 2005. Danny left there in August of 2005. So, I might have met him then too.

These days, Danny has his own company called First Choice Management Services, LLC. It appears to be a catch-all type company for him -- it provides construction and claims analysis, community relations services, non-profit and fundraising assistance, information technology services, and small business marketing and finance.

Those sound like the types of areas in which Danny Goodwin has master's degrees. 

Perhaps I need to meet him soon. I do have a couple of LinkedIn contacts who are connected to Danny...

1 comment:

  1. You actually met one of these guys and didn't have to pay their appearance fee.